WOMAN OF THE HOUR
CYCLING WEEKLY|September 23, 2021
Next week British time triallist Joss Lowden will attempt to set a new women’s Hour record. Vern Pitt finds out how she’s been preparing for it
Vern Pitt

The Lowden family don’t do anything by halves,” says Joss Lowden, wannabe Hour record holder when we ask her about how she got into cycling as a child. “We’d do 130km or 150km. And this is before we properly knew about eating and nutrition so we’d be out with one bottle on our bikes and be surprised that we needed picking up 30 minutes from home because we literally couldn’t pedal. This was the reality of a lot of our bike rides.”

We put it to her that her father sounds like a Roman general that would march his troops/family until they collapse. “You’re not entirely wrong,” she says, before pointing out there were some great experiences on big rides with her father but that she was probably a “stubborn teenager” at the time.

Stubbornness, determination, a familiarity with intense pain and fatigue. These are all qualities that should come in handy next Thursday when, at 4pm British time (you can watch it on Eurosport), she’ll attempt to set a new Hour record in Grenchen, Switzerland. To do so she’ll need to better Vittoria Bussi, who rode 48.007km at altitude in Mexico in 2018. There’s not been another attempt since.

In truth it’s not been a long-held goal of Lowden’s. In April 2020 aero ace Dan Bigham, who is also Lowden’s fiancé and who she describes as the “brains” behind the attempt, had been scheduled to make an assault on a raft of track records.

“Dan starts running some numbers. And he’s like, ‘You could do this,’ and I thought, ‘Hmmm, maybe.’ It evolved from there,” she says.

Originally Lowden’s attempt was going to be for a British or masters record because, due to Drops-Le Col’s Continental status, she wasn’t on the UCI’s biological passport programme, a requirement for a UCI record. But then one afternoon in February in Manchester she did a trial run, initially envisaged as an aero-test – she ended up riding 48.106km. “We said we should probably make this a real thing,” she says. “Then Le Col wanted to back it so it went from there.”

The British clothing brand is providing administrative support to Lowden and providing her with its newest aero skinsuit, developed in collaboration with F1 racing team and former UCI WorldTour team sponsor McLaren.

It has become a major undertaking but when Cycling Weekly first speaks to her about the attempt in March, she seems remarkably at ease with the whole thing, as if taking on one of cycling’s great landmarks was no different to knocking out a casual 100km on a Sunday morning. When we speak to her in September she’s still very relaxed but with her last few major road races ticked off (bar a ride in the World Championship time trial) thoughts are turning to the velodrome. “I always live in this one-step-at-a-time mentality. And now I’m realising that we’re getting pretty close,” she says.

Some stress is beginning to creep in, but not from herself. “The thing that stresses me isn’t the effort itself, it’s the publicity. I don’t like the interviews, the videos, all that,” she says as CW feigns offence. “I would rather just do something and then afterwards be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I did that.’

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